Pendleton Woolen Mills is cited for workplace violations

Some corrections have been made by the company

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The State Department of Labor and Industries has notified officials with Pendleton Woolen Mills, in Washougal about 21 violations in several categories.

They include confined space, hearing conservation, personal protective equipment, employee training and hazard communication issues.

Elaine Fischer, a spokeswoman for the L&I office in Olympia, said two types of inspections were conducted — those focusing on industrial hygiene or ‘health’ hazards and the other focusing on safety issues.

“In this case, a coordinated workplace safety and industrial hygiene inspection took place,” she said.

Safety discipline violations were cited during an inspection that was opened on Dec. 19, 2011.

The L&I citation and notice of assessment mentions that Pendleton mills raw wool into fabric for clothes and blankets.

“Each step in the process utilizes specialized machines, dye chemical processes and equipment,” the citation and notice stated. “Many of the machines and processes have not been updated since the 1940’s.”

The total assessed penalty is $66,700.

Charlie Bishop, vice president of mill operations at Pendleton, said the company’s management and employees fully cooperated with the Department of Labor and Industries during the inspection.

That process, which took more than six months, included eight site visits and hundreds of hours of employees’ time, according to Bishop.

“The health and safety of our employees is, and always has been, Pendleton’s first and highest priority,” he said. “Pendleton is committed to the continuous improvement of our health and safety programs.

“The issues raised were immediately addressed and in most cases, resolved,” Bishop added. “We are actively working to resolve any outstanding issues.”

Examples of violations include not labeling containers of hazardous chemicals with the name of the chemical and appropriate hazard warnings, not informing and training employees about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and not requiring employees to use hearing protection when their noise exposures exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels.

The 300,000 square foot mill, located at Two Pendleton Way, employs 189. It manufactures wool textiles, for use in blankets, men’s and women’s clothing and upholstery.